The chief of the Murrieta Police Department said the agency is investigating after a woman alleged on social media that a patrol car tailed her from a Black Lives Matter protest — and the department is also investigating a response written to the woman from the department’s official Twitter account, which the chief acknowledged was not “appropriate or professional.”
On Sunday, 19-year-old Aaliyah Becerra made a series of posts on her Twitter account asking Murrieta police to “explain why I was followed by a police car into a neighborhood after I had honked and cheered for the BLM protest.”
In the thread, Becerra claimed a Murrieta police vehicle followed her through four left turns before deciding to “casually pull off.”
In posting the tweets, Becerra tagged the Murrieta Police Department’s Twitter handle, and the department posted the following response to her question: “No idea… but the truth is probably not as exciting as the conspiracy theory you’re already dreaming up.”
Becerra quickly responded to the police department’s tweet, criticizing the department’s “sarcastic undertone” and questioning its characterization of her complaint as a “conspiracy theory.”
“(I)t’s not a conspiracy when your officer followed me for more than 5 minutes..after honking at a rally .. protesting police brutality,” Becerra wrote. “Not really a coincidence.”
The police department wrote back: “We are happy to have honest (dialogue) with anyone that wants but allegations without specific details is counter productive. If you would like to provide your address we would be happy to come and address your concerns in person.”
Becerra responded asking for identifying information on the person who wrote the Murrieta Police Department’s tweets at her, but did not get a response. She then sent a direct message to the police department on Twitter, asking to be put in contact with the police chief. Per screenshots provided by Becerra, she did not get a response to those, either.
Reached by phone, Becerra said she was driving for a delivery service when the tailing incident allegedly occurred. She said she is certain a patrol car intentionally followed her from a protest at the corner of Winchester and Murrieta Hot Springs roads after she honked in support.
“The light had turned green, I kept driving and I noticed a police officer behind me, which wasn’t strange to me in the beginning, because there’s police everywhere, but I knew I didn’t do anything wrong so I kept driving into the neighborhood,” Becerra said. “He made the same turn, then I continued on my route. He was making the same turns and following me the same exact way. I was like, ‘OK, well let me make four lefts and we’ll see if he follows me, and he continued to follow me through the four lefts, and I already knew he was checking my tags.”
She said after that, she slowed down and pulled over, and the patrol car continued on its way. She described the vehicle as a “Charger,” clearly marked as a Murrieta Police vehicle. The Murrieta Police Department does use some Dodge Charger patrol vehicles.
“I was kind of weirded out by it,” Becerra said. “I happened to be one of the only cars at the time honking at the protest and it was just too coincidental to chalk it up to something out of the blue.”
She said she was disheartened by the Murrieta Police Department’s response to her on Twitter, saying she thought it was an indication that the department has little regard for city residents. “It’s incredible that they can’t even see that maybe, maybe as a human being (the officer) became angry with what I stood for, and since he’s in a position of power he decided to intimidate me and scare me.”
After Becerra’s Twitter interaction with Murrieta Police, dozens of Twitter users shared the police department’s responses to her — and many of them were critical.
One user described the tweets as “grossly unprofessional and rude.” Another said it was “disgusting.”
However, after not receiving further responses from the Murrieta Police Department on Twitter, Becerra said she directly emailed Murrieta Police Chief Sean Hadden and quickly received a response. She said the two met Tuesday afternoon to discuss her allegation that an officer had followed her as well as her issue with the exchange with the department on Twitter.
Murrieta Police Chief Sean Hadden confirmed in an email that he had met with Becerra.
“I have assured her we will investigate both the Twitter response from the police department and her being followed on July 26th,” Hadden said. “We had a very good conversation and she told me she was appreciative of us investigating the incidents.”
Hadden said he did not believe the Murrieta Police Department’s tweets had been proper.
“In regards to the twitter response from the police department, no, I do not believe it was appropriate or professional,” Hadden said in the email. “The appropriate response should have been to reach out to this young lady to get more information so we could investigate the complaint.”
Despite Hadden’s acknowledgement, the tweets in question had not been taken down as of Tuesday night.
Hadden said while the department is investigating the Twitter response, he could not share any details on the person who wrote the response or any potential disciplinary actions being taken until the investigation is complete.
“Our current policies cover this type of incident,” he said.
Becerra said while she was troubled by the initial incidents, she was pleasantly surprised by the police chief’s response.
“Basically, he talked to me about how he understands that this absolutely wasn’t OK,” Becerra said. “Honestly, he was just really nice and open to hearing what I had to say and really showing me that he was gonna handle this with swiftness.”